Help us persuade the dictionary editors of the world that it’s high time we had a word for this moment of citrus attack by signing our petition.
Dear Editors of English-Language Dictionaries:
We, the undersigned, believe the word “orbisculate” should be included in your dictionary. We respectfully request that you add it to your next edition.
We will not share your information with any third parties. What kind of monsters do you think we are?
or·bis·cu·late / ȯr-bis-kyoo-leyt /
orbisculated; orbisculating; orbisculates
1. to accidentally squirt juice and/or pulp into one’s eye, as from a grapefruit when using a spoon to scoop out a section for eating.
2. to accidentally squirt the inner content from fruits, vegetables and other foods onto one’s face, body, or clothing, or onto that of a person nearby.
or·bis·cu·la·tion / ȯr-bis-kyoo-ley-shuhn/
1. the act or process of orbisculating
Origin of orbisculate:
arbitrary coinage; originated by Neil Krieger, American, 1941-2020
Examples of orbisculate and orbisculation in sentences:
“Why are you squinting, dear?” “It’s nothing. The grapefruit I was eating just orbisculated into my eye.”
“I need to sit farther away from you. The tomatoes you’re chopping just orbisculated on me.”
“Wow, check out the trajectory of orbisculation from this lime!”
“Hey, you have something on your shirt.” “Oh no! That must be from the orbisculation of the orange I had earlier. This is why I should never wear white.”
Since launching this campaign, we’ve gotten a few questions from people about whether they’re using the word correctly, and just how it is that any word gets into the dictionary. We hope this helps clear things up.
Q: I sprayed juice on myself from a pepperoni when eating pizza the other day. Can I say “the pepperoni orbisculated on me”?
Q: You know that moment when you open a yogurt container and it creates a vacuum and some yogurt pops out of the container and gets on you? Can I refer to that as orbisculation?
Q: If a volcano erupts, can I say it orbisculated?
A: That's not exactly what we had in mind when we started this, but yes. The whole thing about words is that meanings change over time. If you have a moment where you feel compelled to use the word orbisculate, then that impulse is correct. If it’s not what we intended, that's okay. It's not just our word anymore. It’s everyone’s.
Q: What do you call the juice itself that squirts out of a grapefruit into one’s eye?
A: We're pretty sure that from a linguistic perspective, that would be called orbisculate with the -late sounding like "lit" instead of "late" as it does in the original word. But since that is kind of confusing, we hereby propose the word "orbisculant." Think it should be called something else? We gladly encourage you to come up with your own term. That's how words work.
Q: So you’re saying you can just make up a word and get that in the dictionary?
A: Yes and no. Anyone can invent a word, and in theory, any word that a person invents can get in the dictionary -- orbisculate included! But the key thing is that the word has to be widely used, and used in such a way (e.g. on news sites and podcasts and the like) that it gets the notice of dictionary editors, whose job it is to record new terms entering circulation. The most important part is that they see orbisculate being used in context. So, for instance, they see someone complaining about their yogurt orbisculating on them, rather than someone mentioning how cool a word orbisculate is (though it is indeed an awesome word and we encourage that usage as well).
Q: I’m not sure what my last question is. But I’m sure I have one.
A: Good news. You can read this post on our blog (since retired) about breaking into a dictionary to answer all sorts of questions, even the ones you didn’t think to ask.